Washington

December, 2016

As the first major effort to use a behavioral economics lens to examine human services programs that serve poor and vulnerable families in the United States, the BIAS project demonstrated the value of applying behavioral insights to improve the efficacy of human services programs.

Using Behavioral Insights to Increase Incarcerated Parents’ Requests for Child Support Modifications

October, 2016

A behavioral intervention provided incarcerated noncustodial parents in Washington with materials about their eligibility for a child support order modification and how to request one. It increased the number of parents requesting a modification by 32 percentage points and the number of parents receiving a modification by 16 percentage points.

August, 2016

Jobs-Plus – a “place-based,” workforce-development model proven to help public housing residents find employment – is about to be replicated across the country. This infographics depicts the program model,  its effects on earnings, and the history of its development over the past 20 years.

Building a Body of Evidence

April, 2016

Over the past several years, MDRC has worked with the federal Administration for Children and Families to test low-cost behavioral interventions to improve child support services in a number of states. This issue focus describes what’s been learned so far — and what’s planned for the future.

Lessons from Implementing a Rigorous Academic Program for At-Risk Young People

September, 2015

In Gateway to College, students who have dropped out of high school and who are at risk of dropping out simultaneously earn credits toward a high school diploma and a postsecondary degree. This report describes the program model and shares lessons learned from its implementation at three program sites.

Findings from a Brief Study of Alternative Staffing Organizations

July, 2015

Temporary agencies have become an increasingly important employer of low-skilled, low-wage workers. Alternative staffing organizations that use this model to serve disadvantaged workers (such as welfare recipients and people with disabilities) appear to fill a need, but they must build the capacity to run a viable, competitive business.

Two-Year Impact Report

May, 2015

RExO increased the number and types of services received by participants and improved their self-reported labor market outcomes as well. But there is little evidence it had any impacts on recidivism or other outcomes. Further, the impacts on employment, while statistically significant, are quite small in practical terms.

Implementation, Impacts, and Costs of the Reading Partners Program

March, 2015

One-on-one tutoring by volunteers improves the reading proficiency of struggling second- to fifth-graders, according to MDRC’s random assignment study. As a program staffed mostly by volunteers, Reading Partners is substantially less costly than other supplemental reading services typically offered to struggling readers.

October, 2014

Jobs-Plus — a model proven to help public housing residents find work — is about to be replicated across the country. But to expect similar results as have been achieved in the past, practitioners need to learn from others’ experiences with the program.

Lessons from the First Round of Achieving the Dream Community Colleges

April, 2014

Launched in 2004, Achieving the Dream is designed to help community colleges collect and analyze student performance data and apply the results to help students succeed. This report offers lessons from the first 26 colleges to join the national initiative, which now includes more than 200 institutions.

March, 2014

This paper presents findings from in-depth interviews with 16 couples who participated in the Supporting Healthy Marriage (SHM) program. Couples reported benefiting from SHM’s focus on communication and conflict management, but financial needs and lack of social supports placed stress on their relationships throughout their tenure in SHM.

Exploratory Subgroup Analysis in the Supporting Healthy Marriage Evaluation

March, 2014

This paper explores effects of the Supporting Healthy Marriage (SHM) program for six subgroups of couples in the study. SHM’s impacts were generally consistent across these subgroups, though some evidence suggests that couples whose marriages were more distressed at study entry may have benefited more from SHM.

Final Impacts from the Supporting Healthy Marriage Evaluation

January, 2014

Supporting Healthy Marriage (SHM) was a yearlong voluntary marriage education program to help strengthen couples’ relationships. SHM had small sustained positive effects on marital quality more than a year after the program ended but did not achieve its objectives of leading more couples to stay together or improving children’s well-being.

Mentoring Experiences and Outcomes for Youth with Varying Risk Profiles

February, 2013

This report, a Public/Private Ventures project funded by the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation, presents results from the nation’s first large-scale study to examine how the levels and sources of risk youth face may influence their mentoring relationships and the benefits they derive from participating in mentoring programs.

An Evaluation of Achieving the Dream in Washington State

December, 2012

In 2006, six community and technical colleges in Washington State joined the innovative Achieving the Dream (ATD) initiative. This report describes the progress they made in implementing ATD’s “culture of evidence” principles for institutional improvement, examines strategies they implemented to improve student success, and charts trends in student outcomes before and after they joined ATD.

August, 2012

Eight programs, in various settings, successfully implemented a voluntary package of relationship skills services for low-income married couples with children, engaging a diverse group of couples who participated for eight months on average. A companion report finds that the programs produced a pattern of small, positive effects on couples’ relationships after 12 months.

Bridging the Gap between High School and College in Tacoma, Washington

June, 2012

Getting Ready for Success provides low-income students in Tacoma with academic and social supports and monetary incentives during the late high school and early college years to increase their motivation and ability to succeed in college.

February, 2012

This report, which presents 12-month impact results from a demonstration designed to strengthen marriages among low-income married couples with children, shows that the program produced a consistent pattern of small, positive effects on multiple aspects of couples’ relationships, including measures of relationship quality, psychological and physical abuse, and adult individual psychological distress.

Resources for Program Operators from the Supporting Healthy Marriage Demonstration and Evaluation

May, 2011

Developed for sites participating in a federal demonstration and evaluation of relationship and marriage skills programs for low-income married couples, this toolkit offers practical guidance about program design, management, and marketing, among other topics. It may be particularly useful for voluntary programs focusing on family relationships, couples, or fatherhood.

Five Years of Achieving the Dream in Community Colleges

February, 2011

This interim report examines the experiences of the first 26 colleges to join the ambitious Achieving the Dream initiative. Launched by Lumina Foundation for Education in 2004, Achieving the Dream helps community colleges collect and analyze student performance data in order to build a “culture of evidence,” enabling the colleges to use that knowledge to develop programs to increase students’ academic success.

September, 2010

An important first hurdle for voluntary programs is recruiting and retaining eligible participants. This report describes how ten Supporting Healthy Marriage programs focused on developing effective marketing strategies, keeping couples engaged in the program, and building management systems. These efforts resulted in encouraging early levels of participation by low-income couples.

September, 2010

This report seeks to answer two policy questions: whether providing subsidies to families whose incomes are just over the state’s eligibility limit affects their child care and employment outcomes, and whether extending the length of time before families must reapply for subsidies affects the receipt of subsidies and related outcomes.

June, 2010

This final report of a two-year evaluation is intended to help states determine how to structure child care subsidy programs. Focusing on how much families should be required to contribute when they receive child care subsidies, the study examined the effects of reduced copayments on subsidy use, employment and earnings, and receipt of public assistance.

Men of Color Discuss Their Experiences in Community College

March, 2010

This report takes an in-depth look at the perceptions and experiences of 87 African-American, Hispanic, and Native American men who were enrolled in developmental math courses at four community colleges. The study explores how the students’ experiences in their high schools and communities, as well as their identities as men of color, influenced their decision to go to college and their engagement in school.

Seven-Year Findings from the Jobs-Plus Demonstration

January, 2010

An extended analysis of Jobs-Plus, an ambitious employment program inside some of the nation’s poorest inner-city public housing developments, finds substantial effects on residents’ earnings a full three years after the program ended.

Time Use Estimates for Economically Disadvantaged and Nondisadvantaged Married Couples in the United States

September, 2009

Contrary to some expectations, economically disadvantaged couples spend slightly more time together than nondisadvantaged ones, and more of that time is spent in leisure activities, according to this paper from the Supporting Healthy Marriage Project. While these couples may face different barriers to participating in voluntary programs than higher-income couples, their “time crunch” appears to be no worse.

A Guide for Practitioners Based on the Jobs-Plus Demonstration

December, 2008

This guide contains practical advice on implementing a program model — known as the Jobs-Plus Community Initiative for Public Housing Families (Jobs-Plus) — aimed at helping public housing residents find and keep jobs.

August, 2008

This working paper introduces the Supporting Healthy Marriage evaluation, the first large-scale, multisite experiment that is testing voluntary marriage education programs for low-income married couples with children in eight sites across the country. The year-long programs consist of a series of marriage education workshops with additional family support services and referrals.

Lessons from the Dreamkeepers and Angel Fund Emergency Financial Aid Programs

May, 2008

For low-income students, education can be easily derailed by a temporary financial emergency, like the loss of a job or a car repair. This final report offers lessons from two programs created by Lumina Foundation for Education that provide emergency grants or loans to help students at risk of dropping out. Eleven community colleges participated in Dreamkeepers, and 26 tribal colleges or universities participated in Angel Fund.

Early Progress in the Achieving the Dream Initiative

May, 2007

Achieving the Dream is a multiyear, national initiative, launched by Lumina Foundation for Education, to help community college students stay in school and succeed. The 83 participating colleges commit to collecting and analyzing data to improve student outcomes, particularly for low-income students and students of color. This baseline report describes the early progress that the first 27 colleges have made after just one year of implementation.

Building Evidence About What Works to Improve Self-Sufficiency

March, 2007

This working paper argues for building a stronger base of evidence in the housing-employment policy arena through an expanded use of randomized controlled trials.

Implementation and Early Lessons from the Dreamkeepers and Angel Fund Programs

February, 2007

The report describes early findings from MDRC’s evaluation of the Dreamkeepers Emergency Financial Aid Program and the Angel Fund Program, two pilot programs for community college students who are at risk of dropping out because of unexpected financial crises.

Presented Before the Subcommittee on Federalism and the Census, House Committee on Government Reform

June, 2006

MDRC’s study of Jobs-Plus, an employment program for public housing residents, offered the first hard evidence that a work-focused intervention based in public housing can effectively boost residents’ earnings and promote their self-sufficiency. Congress may wish to consider introducing Jobs-Plus in additional housing developments across the country.

Promoting Work in Seattle Public Housing During a HOPE VI Redevelopment

October, 2005

Early success for this ambitious employment program for public housing residents in Seattle was disrupted by a federal HOPE VI grant to tear down and revitalize the housing development.

The Effectiveness of Jobs-Plus

March, 2005

Jobs-Plus, an ambitious employment program inside some of the nation’s poorest inner-city public housing developments, markedly increased the earnings of residents in the sites where it was implemented well.

October, 2004

Seattle Jobs-Plus — part of an MDRC national research demonstration designed to promote employment among public housing residents — succeeded in engaging a majority of residents, many of whom were immigrants from diverse parts of the world, in work-related services or supports.

Basic Characteristics of Economically Disadvantaged Couples in the U.S.

July, 2004

Using recent surveys and published reports, this working paper assembles a portrait of the attitudes and behaviors of disadvantaged married couples. It gathers and assesses descriptive statistics on the formation and stability, characteristics, and quality of marriages in the low-income population in the U.S. We welcome discussion and comments on this working paper.

Lessons from the Jobs-Plus Demonstration

July, 2004

This report examines how public housing authorities in six cities implemented one of the most innovative features of the Jobs-Plus demonstration: using incentives plans to keep rents lower than they would have been under existing rules as a way to encourage and reward work among public housing residents.

Implementing the Community Support for Work Component of Jobs-Plus

June, 2004

The “community support for work” component of Jobs-Plus relies on outreach workers from public housing developments to help extend Jobs-Plus’s reach in public housing communities.

Lessons from the Jobs-Plus Demonstration in Public Housing

November, 2003

From the Jobs-Plus initiative, this report describes efforts to build participation among public housing residents in a program that offers services and financial incentives designed to promote work.

Lessons from Jobs-Plus About the Mobility of Public Housing Residents and Implications for Place-Based Initiatives

March, 2003

This paper begins to fill a void in the understanding of residential mobility in low-income communities by examining intended and actual out-migration patterns of a cohort of residents of five public housing developments.

Key Features of Mature Employment Programs in Seven Public Housing Communities

February, 2003

Aiming to significantly increase employment and economic self-sufficiency among public housing residents since its inception in 1997, the Jobs-Plus Community Revitalization Initiative for Public Housing Families created and operated on-site job centers at each of seven public housing developments in six cities across the nation.

An Examination of the Children at the Beginning of the Jobs-Plus Demonstration

December, 2002

Children who live in public housing are commonly thought to be at greater risk of experiencing academic and behavioral problems than other low-income children, but this paper is among the few to explore empirically the characteristics and circumstances of these children.

The Jobs-Plus Experience in Public Housing Developments

September, 2002

Through extensive ethnographic interviews with staff and residents of two Jobs-Plus housing developments in Seattle and St. Paul, this report explains how a range of social and personal issues characteristic of largely immigrant public housing residents can render conventional employment and support services ineffective.

Findings from the Jobs-Plus Baseline Survey

September, 2002

Tapping a deep pool of survey data to learn about residents' connections to the labor market, this report dispels some widespread misconceptions. For example, it finds that even in places with high rates of joblessness, many public housing residents have work histories that are extensive and varied, albeit typically in unstable, low-wage jobs.

Learning from the Jobs-Plus Demonstration

May, 2001

Collaboration Among Agencies and Public Housing Residents in the Jobs-Plus Demonstration

May, 2001

Origins and Early Accomplishments of the Jobs-Plus Demonstration

September, 1999

A Saturation and Place-Based Employment Initiative for Public Housing Residents

May, 1998

Sustaining a Vision of Welfare Reform Based on Personal Change, Work Preparation, and Employer Involvement

March, 1998
Project Overview

More than one-third of all children under 18 years of age — about 24 million children — live in single-parent families, a vast majority headed by single mothers.

Project Overview

Behavioral science sheds light on human decision-making and behavior to better understand why people make the choices that they do.

Project Overview

The Choice Neighborhoods Initiative (CNI) was the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development’s (HUD’s) flagship redevelopment program and at the time its most significant neighborhood transformation initiative in decades.

Project Overview

The Workforce Investment Act of 1998 (WIA) is the federal government’s largest source of federally funded employment services and training. WIA is the latest in a series of federal employment and training programs, the first having arisen in response to the Great Depression.

Project Overview

Roughly half of college students and close to 60 percent of community college students do not earn a college credential within six years, leaving them with poor labor market prospects in an economy that increasingly demands a credential in order to find a job.

Project Overview

Public housing developments are among the most economically challenged neighborhoods in the United States. In fact, many public housing residents face obstacles to employment even beyond those normally experienced by other low-income people.

Project Overview

Investments in child care by the federal government and individual states grew substantially in the years after passage of the 1996 federal welfare reform law, increasing from $3.6 billion in 1996 to $11.4 billion in 2005. As a result, many more low-income families with working parents were able to receive help in paying for child care.

Project Overview

The Supporting Healthy Marriage project is the first large-scale, multisite, multiyear, rigorous test of marriage education programs for low-income married couples.

Project Overview

Community colleges enroll almost half of all U.S. undergraduate students, yet the majority of these students leave without earning a degree or certificate or transferring to another institution to continue their studies. As a result, they risk losing the opportunity to learn and to earn a livable wage.

Project Overview

Many community college students face unexpected financial emergencies. They may be caused by the loss of a job; a health crisis; an unexpected increase in rent, utilities, or child care costs; or even a fire or natural disaster. Many Americans have been hit hard by the recession.